Andrew Neil will be the main presenter of a new 24-hour news channel called GB News, which is set to go head-to-head with the BBC and could become a British version of Fox News or Newsmax respectively.
The 24-hour channel is due to launch in the first half of 2021. Former BBC employee Mr Neil is now the new channel’s chairman and star presenter.
The channel has already received £60million in funding. Much of this funding comes from wealthy business figures.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, Patrick Barwise, a management professor at London Business School, said that a lot of the funding is “foreign and offshore”.
He added: “This may come with a wrapper saying it’s GB News and patriotic, unlike the ghastly BBC.
For instance, John Malone, owner of the Liberty Global empire, is supporting GB News. It has a big ambition to take on the BBC, ITN, and Sky.
The news channel will also come up against Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News. Mr Murdoch is creating his own British TV news channel, called News UK.
A TV news executive told the Evening Standard: “Will it be that they will try to ‘outFox’ each other? “Will the arms race force them to be more extreme?”
The BBC has stated that GB News has also tried to “poach” some of its own staff.
However, a spokesperson for the public service broadcaster said the BBC was “not sitting in a corner somewhere thinking, Oh my God, how do we rise to the challenge of GB News?”
Mr Neil wants the new channel to have presenters with “with a bit of edge, a bit of attitude, a bit of personality.”
The target audience for the new channel will be conservative, provincial, and opposed to liberal metropolitan values.
Heads at GB News are also trying to bait LBC’s Nick Ferrari into coming aboard.
They have also sought to have Rachel Johnson join, who appears regularly on Sky News current affairs programme, The Pledge.
Also referring to the financial rewards of such investment, Craig Oliver, senior news executive at the BBC and ITV before he became David Cameron’s communications chief, said: “There’s a danger launching a news channel now is a bit like launching a high street travel agent.
“It’s a very analogue thing to do in a digital world.” The new channel hopes to attract those that feel abandoned by the BBC.
Media analyst Alex de Groote has questioned the financial sense of investing in a new TV channel, when most media is going online.
Speaking to the Evening Standard he said: “It’s certainly not a business that I would invest in for purely financial reasons.
“It’s a crowded space and advertisers generally aren’t that fussed.”